Cancer is a health concern for many. We hear this dreaded word daily. Let’s look at some facts. One out of eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer. Skin cancer is the most common. Cancer is complex and basically is uncontrolled growth of previously normal cells. This can include the cells of the lungs, breast, colon and rectum, ovary, bone marrow, uterus, liver, brain, prostate, esophagus, bladder, and kidney. Treatment decisions can be difficult, but early detection and healthy living can limit the risk.
Screening for breast, skin, and colon cancer is very important as early detection helps treatment greatly. Screening for prostate cancer is useful in high risk groups. Screening involves paying attention to changes in your body as well as the way you feel. Are you tired, losing weight, have new lumps not seen before, or a change in the skin? A mammogram, colonoscopy, skin examination, or blood work might be needed occasionally, but I want to focus on five things we can do to lower risk.
- Lose weight – For most cancers, the risk is higher in those who are overweight. Estrogen is made by fat cells. Women who are obese have three times the levels of estrogen. A male’s estrogen levels increase with weight as well. Also extra weight is usually associated with the production of higher insulin levels which fuel cancer cell growth. Weight also changes immune system function. Since being overweight increases cancer risk, can losing weight lower risk of cancer? Absolutely!
- Exercise – Cancer risk can be reduced up to 50% with regular aerobic exercise. Exercise changes your metabolism, reduces inflammation, fat, and insulin production. The American Cancer Society recommends 2.5 hours a week of moderate exercise such as brisk walking.
- Eat a Healthy Diet – A whole food plant-based diet has been shown to lower risk. Diets high in animal fats and proteins increase risk Plants have phytochemicals, fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins that fight many chronic disease. Turmeric has been found to have cancer fighting properties.
- Stop Smoking – Toxins in tobacco damage your DNA increasing the risk of lung, tongue, esophageal, head and neck, liver, bladder, cervical, pancreatic, and colon and rectal cancer.
- No alcohol – Alcohol may hurt the ability to absorb nutrients, damages DNA, and affects levels of estrogen. Breast cancers appear to be especially sensitive to alcohol consumption.
Here are five ways to lower risk. There are no guarantees when it comes to cancer, but an ounce of prevention, as the saying goes, is worth the effort. Pray about these changes and get started on lowering your risk today. “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”